Friday, November 30, 2012

Pinal County Lt. leaves nasty message on talk show host's phone

PINAL COUNTY, Ariz. -- An early morning radio talk show has sparked questions about the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office and the possibility that it's abusing its power.

The questions came after a PCSO Lieutenant called conservative talk show host Barry Young’s personal cell phone and left a nasty voicemail.

Part of the voicemail said, “Hey man I know you gotta’ spin your (explicative) to make it sound cool. Take care."

The cursing caller telephoned Young after hearing the host rant about PCSO on Friday.
Young accused the Sheriff’s Office on-air of denying him an interview with supervisor Jennifer Foster.

Foster took the now famous photo in New York of a cop giving a pair of boots to a homeless man.
Listeners wanted to know how the Lieutenant got access to Young's personal cell phone number.
“But if this guy really went into a data base to get Barry's phone number that's serious,” said show producer Andrew Babinski.

Babinski said Young and Sheriff Paul Babeu's professional relationship changed following the sheriff’s shirtless photo scandal.

“Ever since then we like to have fun,” Babinski said while talking about the sheriff on their show.
Even though Foster's done several interviews across the country, including one with 3TV, Babinski suspects Young's show was blacklisted because of on-air Babeu banter.

Tim Gaffney with PCSO said that's just not true.

“There's no tension there at all,” said Gaffney.

So how did the Lieutenant get Young's personal cell phone number?

Callers questioned if the lawman abused his power and got it through a county data base.

“Mr. Young has given me his cell phone number in the past. I gave out that number. And that’s the number that he called. That’s how he got it. There is no data base that has Mr. Young's cell phone number,” said Gaffney.

The PCSO spokesperson also said he has spoken to KFYI executives.

Gaffney said both offices agree this has been one big misunderstanding that stemmed from a lack of communication.

We reached out to KFYI to confirm this and were told the station has no comment.

Former Phoenix police officer arrested in road rage incident

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- A retired Phoenix police officer has been arrested, accused of pointing a gun at another motorist in an apparent road rage incident.

The motorist was driving with his wife and two children just after 7:30 a.m. on Tuesday. As he was headed north on Cotton Lane, he tried to pass a dump truck and two other vehicles ahead of him.

The retired officer, 54-year-old Frank Marin, was driving his pickup truck just ahead of him. He also tried to pass the dump truck, but he apparently did not see the motorist’s car.

The motorist told police he honked his horn and braked to avoid hitting the pickup, and both vehicles ended up stopped at the intersection.

According to the police report, when the motorist looked over at the pickup, Marin was pointing a Glock 27 handgun at him.

Police say the motorist rolled down his window and yelled, "Go ahead, shoot me!" Marin then reportedly lowered his gun, put his truck in reverse, but then collided with another car.

When officers arrived, Marin at first denied that he had a gun. But he couldn't explain how the victim knew he had a gun and what it looked like, according to court documents. Upon further questioning, Marin admitted having a weapon in his vehicle.

An officer searched the car and reportedly found the gun under the seat. It had a fully loaded magazine inserted and a round in the chamber.

According to the police report, Marin told an officer he had thought that the other driver was going to be aggressive toward him. At that time, Marin was taken into custody. He faces charges of endangerment, misconduct involving a weapon and threats and intimidation.

Marin has since been released on bond. He’s due back in court on Tuesday.

Marin is a retired is a retired Phoenix police officer and is currently a reserve police officer.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Scottsdale’s legal fees grow in 2 police shootings

Scottsdale has agreed to spend more money to defend against lawsuits brought by the families of two men shot by police in separate incidents in 2012 and 2008, bringing the total authorized to date to nearly $1.6 million.

This month, the City Council approved paying up to $75,000 in legal fees for an appeal in the 2008 case of David Hulstedt, 35, who became a paraplegic after two Scottsdale sergeants shot him in the back as he was walking toward his house carrying his 2-year-old daughter, according to court records.

The council also approved spending up to $350,000 in the Feb. 14, 2012, fatal shooting of John Loxas Jr., 50, who was holding his 7-month-old grandson when he was shot and killed by Officer James Peters.

The city has authorized more than $1 million total in legal fees for the Hulstedt case and up to $515,000 in the Loxas case, according to  Mike Phillips,  a Scottsdale spokesman.

Loxas was the seventh Scottsdale resident Peters had shot in the line of duty since 2002. Six of the suspects died. Peters was granted a disability retirement this year.

The families of Loxas and Hulstedt filed lawsuits seeking damages against Scottsdale officials. Loxas’ family seeks $7.5 million from Peters, the city, Police Chief Alan Rodbell and Detective Brian McWilliams, according to documents prepared for the City Council.

Hulstedt’s family seeks $40 million from the city and 19 police officers and former employees, the documents said.

Both shootings were deemed justified by the Police Department’s Deadly Force Review Board, according to records, as were Peters’ prior shootings while on duty.

A federal judge disagreed with the review board in Hulstedt’s case, finding that “reasonable” officers would not have fired at Hulstedt, who had psychological issues, was unarmed, made no sudden movements and held his daughter.

The judge further said the baby could have been hurt. In fact, the baby did fall 6 feet to the ground and suffered a minor facial injury, according to the ruling. The judge also noted that police did not warn Hulstedt before they fired.

After three of four police-fired bullets struck Hulstedt, police handcuffed and dragged him facedown 400 feet to paramedics, the judge found.

Hulstedt was suffering from anxiety and paranoia when he called Scottsdale police the day he was shot and demanded that U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano come to his house, according to the ruling.

Police ascertained he was having psychological difficulties, but they were concerned about the safety of Hulstedt’s daughter because Hulstedt threatened to “pile-drive” her, according to court documents.
The judge ruled that the officers are not immune from damages stemming from the suit.

“Considering ‘the totality of the facts and circumstances’ in the particular case, no reasonable officer could have believed that shooting David without warning, while he calmly walked back towards his house with (his daughter) over his head, was a proper means of protecting (her) safety,” the judge said in his ruling.

“Neither Sgt. Richard Slavin nor Sgt. James Dorer warned (Hulstedt) that they would shoot him if he did not comply with their commands, and both of them shot him in the back as he was walking away from them and towards the house.”

The council Nov. 13 approved up to $75,000 with the law firm of Osborn Maledon to appeal the judge’s findings to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The partners of the firm, which has experience with appellate litigation in excessive-force cases, will make $370 an hour, according to City Council documents.

It is unclear how much money the city has spent on prior legal action in either the Hulstedt case or Loxas case or in other lawsuits against retired Officer Peters.

The council approved up to $250,000 in attorney’s fees and up to $100,000 in other litigation fees to the law firm of Struck, Wieneke & Love of Chandler to represent Peters in the Loxas shooting. Lead attorney Kathe Wieneke will make $195 an hour, according to City Council documents. Separate counsel was retained for the city and other defendants.

Loxas’ neighbors had called police to his house Feb. 14, 2012, after he waved a gun at them, according to police reports. He was walking back to his house holding his grandson when he was shot, according to court documents.

The lawsuit filed on his family’s behalf by the American Civil Liberties Union claims that Scottsdale police failed to adequately investigate Peters’ prior shootings and that he should not have been armed and on the force the day Loxas was killed.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Another police creeper: Drunk Pinal deputy gets arrested after punching man who defended his female friend from drunk cop's unwanted advances

Mueller is on the left, standing next to Pinal County Sheriff Babeu

A Pinal County sheriff’s deputy tapped to be a fill-in department spokesman is fighting a disorderly-conduct charge after an off-duty incident outside a Tempe bar where, police say, he punched another patron.
Richard “Hank” Mueller, 30, was put on paid administrative leave Oct. 22 pending an internal investigation and is expected to remain on leave through at least Dec. 14. He is scheduled for a Nov. 28 hearing on the misdemeanor charge in Tempe Municipal Court.
According to Tempe police records released this week, surveillance video captured Mueller and another man in a heated exchange that resulted in Mueller punching the man in the face about 2:30 a.m. on Oct. 12. The victim told police he was intervening for a female friend who was getting unwanted attention from Mueller at the Firehouse, a bar and grill at University Drive and Mill Avenue.
Police said there was “no clear assault” because Mueller may have been defending himself. According to the report, video showed Mueller holding the man at arm’s length before the punch. The man — who told police he slapped Mueller’s hand away because he didn’t like to be touched — was not charged in the incident.
The Firehouse manager told police that Mueller had been causing problems throughout the night by taunting and threatening the bar security guards. One female employee complained that Mueller was “creeping her out,” according to the police report.
Firehouse employees called 911 after one confrontation, but police were not dispatched because Mueller appeared to have left. They called police a second time after the fight in the alley.
In their reports, officers described Mueller as being intoxicated and irrational. None of them identified Mueller as a Pinal County sheriff’s deputy or a law-enforcement officer.
Mueller was cited and released after promising to appear in court. It was not clear whether Mueller drove away, but the report indicated he was advised to get a ride home.
Mueller declined to comment when reached by phone Friday.
He was one of several Pinal sheriff’s employees who appeared in a commercial supporting Sheriff Paul Babeu’s candidacy for U.S. House, a race Babeu left in May to run for re-election.
Mueller was hired as a deputy in January 2009, the month Babeu first took office. Before joining the Sheriff’s Office, Mueller had been a detention officer with the Chandler Police Department — Babeu’s former employer, from which he drew several members of his command staff — and the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office.
Mueller graduated at the top of his class from the police academy. A review of his personnel file and disciplinary records revealed multiple blemishes. In one performance review, Mueller’s supervisor said the deputy “didn’t always (use) good tact, good judgment and common sense to resolve conflict (and) at times it may escalate out of control. Mueller still needs to work on this as he generates quite a few complaints when it comes to dealing with calls for service.”
His judgment was also questioned in an incident that began as a traffic stop and escalated to the forced entry and warrantless search of an apartment. In the incident, Mueller and at least one other officer held the occupants at gunpoint.
Mueller said he had kicked in the door because he and another officer thought they smelled marijuana. Mueller told internal-affairs detectives that he believed the driver who ran from him fled into the apartment but later admitted he wasn’t sure.
His patrol commander recommended Mueller serve an 80-hour suspension without pay.
“This shows a clear lack of understanding (of) PCSO policy, constitutional rights and established case law on Deputy Mueller’s part,” the supervisor wrote. “He became over zealous and lost his ability to make sound judgment. This lack of judgment placed the citizens of Pinal County, the other deputies and officer working with him in harm’s way, while placing the Sheriff’s Office in a position of great risk and liability.”
Chief Deputy Steve Henry, however, ordered Mueller to take 20 hours of unpaid leave and required him to take a class on search and seizure. He cited Mueller’s inexperience and praised him for his “honesty and virtue” in reporting the incident to his supervisor.
“It is evident there would have never been an investigation without this virtuous act,” Henry wrote.

Phoenix police name new liaisons to the city's LGBT community, and anti-anarchist/protest unit

The replacements for disgraced Red Squad officer Chris Wilson has been announced. The chairman of the LGBT advisory board, who works with the police in mediating community rage, said very plainly what the reform institutions purpose is: “When we recognize a problem, we address it professionally and not by burning down half of the city because you have one officer who decided to be stupid.” 

As if the problem with the police is the one bad apple hired. The attitude of the police and those who justify their existence is extreme paranoia, even when hyperbolic. When was the last time anything was burned down because of the police in this city? How silly that this non-example is trotted out to justify the police presence in a community that routinely is subjected to homophobia/transphobia from police and has every reason to oppose police.

An older photo of the Phoenix PD's Red Squad, photo from prison abolitionist

  Top Row
Lt. Bryan Coley, Det. Rick Tamburo, Det. Dottie Conroy, Det. Al Ramirez, Det. Rick Flum, Det. Tony Davis

Bottom Row
Det. Jeff Wood, Sgt. Mark Schweikert, Det. Jerry Oliver, Det. Chris Wilson, Det. Chris Abril

 From the AZ Repulsive:

Two detectives recently took on roles as the Phoenix Police Department’s liaisons to the city’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

Police Chief Daniel V. Garcia’s announcement in October came three months after the arrest of the previous liaison, Detective Christopher J. Wilson, on suspicion of sexual misconduct with two teenage boys.

Wilson, who handed in his badge immediately after his August arrest, met one of the boys through his duties with the LGBT community, according to court documents. Wilson sits in jail and faces an initial pretrial conference Nov.27.

Last week, the Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board, which oversees peace-officer training, conduct and certification, accepted Wilson’s voluntary relinquishment of his state certification without discussion.

On Oct.31, Garcia introduced Detectives Julie Smith and Dottie Conroy at department headquarters to representatives from various community groups, including the Phoenix Police LGBT Citizen Advisory Board.

Conroy, a 17-year veteran, said that as an openly gay woman, it’s an opportunity “to deal with the community that I love.”

Smith, who is heterosexual, said since joining the department nine years ago, she had always wanted to work with the various communities in Phoenix. The Phoenix native said she looks forward to her new assignment because “it is so diverse and so wonderful.”

In 2009, the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey estimated 6.4percent of Phoenix’s population identifies as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. That’s about 63,222 people.

Garcia, who became chief in May, will assign two detectives to each of the department’s eight community advisory boards for minority groups, which include Muslims, Sikhs, Hispanics and African-Americans.

The move will enable the department to do more outreach, said Gerald Richard, assistant to the police chief.

Richard said community advisory boards foster dialog and build relationships between the department and minority groups to handle issues before they erupt into turmoil.

Don Hamill, a community activist who has served as a board member of Phoenix Pride, told Garcia officers still need more education.

“There is a problem in your force, and it affects everybody in this room,” Hamill said.

Hamill said he recently overheard uniformed officers use the words, “‘the gays,’ because they’ve been told not to use the ‘F’ word.”

“It’s wrong,” Hamill said. “I was shocked to hear it. I pay their salary (and) pension.”

He told the chief that there should be zero tolerance for inappropriate language, and officers should use no other adjective than citizen in talking about groups of people.

“I agree with you 100 percent,” Garcia said. “We are not at Shangri-La yet.”

Patrick Kelley, who co-chairs the LGBT Citizen Advisory Board, also commended the selection of Conroy and Smith.

Kelley said advisory groups help bring understanding between the community and police. He said about a year ago, a Phoenix police officer stopped a man dressed in drag going to a fundraising event and asked, “Why are you dressed like a freak?”

Kelley said the issue was brought up at an advisory-board meeting.

He said officers at the precinct where the incident took place received cultural-sensitivity training.

“When we recognize a problem, we address it professionally and not by burning down half of the city because you have one officer who decided to be stupid.”

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

One Glendale caught busted for drinking, how many others get a pass from fellow officers?

An off-duty Glendale police lieutenant was cited on suspicion of DUI early Friday morning in Phoenix, according to Phoenix police.

Lt. Rachael Bousman, 39, of the Glendale Police Department was cited and released by Phoenix police at 1:15 a.m., according to a press release from the Phoenix Police Department.

Phoenix police responded to a call about an impaired driver near Seventh Avenue and Bethany Home Road. A witness reported a car was stuck on a parking block, according to Phoenix police.

Bousman had blood drawn to determine her blood alcohol content, a standard procedure, according to police. That level was not immediately available.

Sgt. Brent Coombs, a spokesman for the Glendale Police Department, said that he is unable to speak about the case until the investigation and any possible appeal have been exhausted.

"All we can say ... right now, is to confirm that it did occur. It is DUI-related, and that an internal investigation is underway," Coombs said.

Bousman is a 14-year veteran of the Glendale Police Department.

She has been placed on administrative leave with pay.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Burglary suspect shot by deputy in Tempe dies

 A Tempe cop yelling at bystanders to leave

A Maricopa County sheriff's deputy shot and killed a burglary suspect Thursday along the canal that separates Tempe from Guadalupe.

The Sheriff's Office was assisting Tempe police, who were looking for suspects in a burglary in a nearby neighborhood earlier in the morning.

The man who was shot was identified late Thursday afternoon as Joel Smith, 19. Smith was pronounced dead after he was taken to Maricopa Medical Center for treatment.

Deputy Jeff Sprong, a Sheriff's Office spokesman, said Smith was armed with a knife.

Two women who live nearby in Guadalupe said they heard shots and ran outside to see what was happening. They said Smith appeared unarmed as he walked toward the deputy.

"You could tell he had nothing in his hands," said Sandra Reyes, who was worried that her great-grandchildren would be hit by the gunfire. "It looked like he was trying to surrender."

Sabrina Garcia told a similar version, saying, "He wasn't trying to attack the cops."

But Sprong said the women were mistaken and that the shooting was also witnessed by several Tempe police officers.

"The incident as explained to you by neighbors did not happen," Sprong wrote in an e-mail.

"He did threaten our deputy. Our deputy did shoot that individual," Sprong said. "This deputy obviously felt his life was in danger."

Sprong did not release the deputy's name but described the deputy as a "seasoned veteran," adding, "this isn't something he wanted to do."

The burglary occurred about 9 a.m., less than a mile from the shooting scene, along the South Branch Highline Canal, west of Hardy Drive and Guadalupe Road.